Nineteen year old Army Private Danny Chen died on October 3, 2011. He was found shot to death and it has been assumed that the gunshot was self-inflicted. I do not know how thorough the forensic examinations were. The Army is typically reluctant to reveal detail on their investigations. There is always the possibility, without proof to the contrary, that he was murdered. We will probably never know for sure. That is the result of the unreasonable secrecy which the US Military holds to in cases of non-combat deaths. I hope that someday they will reexamine this policy.Because of the extraordinary aid of the OCA, the Organization of Chinese Americans, this case received extensive media coverage and excellent legal representation. The soldiers involved in the racial and physical harassment of Private Chen were prosecuted. As of December 2012, all the trials were completed.
The Chen family has recently stated that they feel no sense of closure and Elizabeth OuYang, the spokesperson for the OCA has expressed similar disappointment that justice was not done in the case.I understand their sentiments and agree with them to an extent.
To the Chen family, I want to say that from my experience they will never feel a sense of closure. I’m sorry, but that’s the way I see it. They have lost a loved son to injustice. They will mourn for the rest of their lives. They will long for the son they have lost. But they will learn to live with it. I send them my sympathy, and, more importantly, my empathy, as I have similarly lost a soldier son to injustice. Unfortunately, there are thousands of families in the US who have had this experience.Here is what I want to say on the positive outcome of the Chen case. Yes, I think there was a positive outcome and I think that the OCA is to be congratulated and praised for their proactive role in this outcome.
It is just slightly more than one year since Danny’s death. The Army has publicly acknowledged that egregious injustice was done which caused Danny to commit suicide. The resolution of this case is much more unusual than you might expect. Most of the families of non-combat death victims have never received any acknowledgement of wrongdoing by any of the Military Services, either of individual servicemembers or by command. The OCA will continue to work to eliminate hazing and harassment of Military members. The public has been made aware. This is a big accomplishment with a positive result.Eight soldiers were tried and found guilty of various offenses in just over a year. The Chen family and OCA should know that this is extraordinarily rare! True, the charge of negligent homicide was dropped in each case, but they had to know that this serious charge was a long shot to prove. Each defendant got some sort of punishment. This is also exceedingly uncommon, and further acknowledgement of wrongdoing within the ranks.
It is a start. Some justice was done.Typically, families are on their own in seeking justice for their children and spouses. They spend inordinate amounts of money on lawyers and bring cases which drag on for years and yield little justice. This is common even in the case of provable homicide. They receive little cooperation from the Military and/or civilian police when it comes to investigation. The perpetrators are rarely prosecuted. Within our group of families, there are many who are still trying to obtain information about their loved ones deaths after decades without much success. They can find no ombudsmen or affordable legal counsel. They cannot break through the barrier of secrecy and bureaucracy which protects the Military. We need more groups like the OCA in America.
Recent articles on the Chen case:http://www.stripes.com/news/last-of-accused-in-pvt-danny-chen-s-death-to-be-removed-from-army-1.201082
Comments from some of our members:Well said. I know how disappointed they must be. I know they expected more, we can all relate to that. A friend of mine told me that Liz Ou Yang was on the news last week expressing her disappointment in the outcome. I don't think that they realize what they actually were able to accomplish.
I agree, well said. I have nothing but respect and admiration for this family, unfortunately the loss of a child can overshadow any positive actions they have accomplished. Just getting the military to even acknowledge anything is a miracle, as most of us already know! In a very short time, This family has created great change for the future of others!! We know how crippling grief can be, The mourning process involves a great deal of anger and pain, which is very difficult to see past at times! I pray given time, the family will be able to see more clearly the good they have done for this world, and the hope they have given to others to keep going in our own battle for justice!!! And yes , as we all know they will mourn, always!!
Well said! Thanks for posting it. After 21 years we have less.
Congratulations to the family for making this much progress.
Kirk would have been 45 on the 28th!Lois Vanderbur